Clare Stumpf headed to Cheyenne last week to speak up on an anti-housing bill being considered by the state legislature. The bill passed out of committee 8-6 (a very close margin). But there was good discussion and robust comments from Clare and friends – we’re not giving up. Read her comments below.
Joint Corporations, Elections, & Political Subdivisions Committee
November 18, 2019
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Clare Stumpf and I am a resident of Teton County. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on LSO-230 today.
When I first moved to Jackson in 2012, I was enthralled by the 13,000-foot peaks, 100-year-old historic buildings, and incredible people in the valley. Little did I realize that as soon as I became invested in being a part of the community long-term, I would discover that finding an affordable place to live was nearly impossible. Because I was a seasonal employee during the summer, I decided to purchase a 1991 GMC van and live in it. I parked in an empty lot near the small business where I worked, along with ten of my colleagues who were also living in their cars. Without that serendipitous empty lot, my bosses wouldn’t have had any employees. Others made do by camping for months in the National Forest, or even discreetly holing up in green space around town. We have few other options.
Teton County voters and elected officials have long acknowledged the conundrum of the valley: a place dependent on blue-collar support for millions of visitors, juxtaposed along the elite class building their luxury vacation homes, unattainable to those most essential to the community and most threatened by the affordable housing crisis. In July 2018, elected officials passed our housing mitigation requirements after a year-long public process. Just two weeks ago, voters showed their support when they passed a ballot measure investing in workforce housing options. We are well on our way to safeguarding our workers, enriching our community character, and sustaining our businesses.
Now LSO-230 threatens to uproot years of effort to create workforce housing options in Wyoming. If this bill passes, our population will become increasingly displaced. My friends, colleagues and neighbors will either commute from hours away or just leave. Valuable employees that invest themselves in the economy and community will be squeezed out. Who will be left to staff our small businesses then? Or, we can ensure that workforce housing and commercial development proceed in tandem, as they are interdependent. Our community will thrive and be able to support families, critical service providers, seasonal workers, tourists, and small businesses owners alike.
Despite these challenges, I still want to live in Wyoming. I’m speaking to you today on behalf of local workers like me who find that the lack of affordable housing is the biggest threat to their security. I can’t imagine how I will manage long-term without housing mitigation efforts. Unfortunately, living in my thirty-year-old van is not a good option for Wyoming winters. I look forward to collaborating with the business community and electeds alike to refine our housing strategies locally. LSO-230 would eradicate one important tool for us to address our housing crisis, so please vote no on LSO-230. Thank you for your time.